SUBSIM
Review
Joel Billings
Executive Producer of Fighting Steel
March 1999

FIGHTING STEEL FIRES BACK!


The SSR preview of the upcoming SSI/Mindscape battleship sim Fighting Steel was responsible for a big surge in our e-mail. Some of you view specialized sims with suspicion. Some of you took us to task, reminding that subs played a very small part in most battleship encounters and only one Japanese battleship fell victim to a US torpedo. Others are so naval/subsim starved you'd jump at the chance to play a computerized version of Gilligan's Island.

One e-note that caught our eye was from Joel Billings, Executive Producer of Fighting Steel. Mr. Billings addressed some of the points raised in the preview. In the interest of keeping our readers better informed, we asked him if we could post his rebuttal and he cordially agreed.

So, read this, learn more. And thanks, Joel.

Dear Neal,

As the Producer of Fighting Steel I wanted to thank you for writing your preview. While reading the preview I did find a few items I wanted to respond to. First off, you are correct in pointing out that Fighting Steel is a tactical game with no subs or airplanes. Our goal was to build a game that allowed players to refight most of the key surface engagements of the war. Engagements like Cape Esperance, Tassafaronga, Barents Sea, Denmark Straits did not have subs or airplanes, and these are the kinds of engagements we wanted to simulate. Battleships and Cruisers did not want to fight subs as they couldn't do anything but run unless they had a Destroyer escort.

This was also true of their relationship with aircraft. The surface combat that did occur in WWII occurred in conditions where aircraft could not have a direct impact on the fighting like night battles off Guadalcanal
and day battles in the middle of the Atlantic. The only major impact planes had on these engagements was their ability to keep damaged ships from getting home alive, and we have that impact modeled in the game.

fight5.jpg (9247 bytes)As for your point about firing the guns, we do allow players to pick targets for their turrets if they want to get to that level of detail. This might be useful in a day battle at long range, but in a close range night battle players will be much more interested in firing their torpedoes and driving their ships than they will be in worrying about a particular turret. The Alpha version you were looking at only allowed players to choose up to 2 targets for each of their ships, but the final version will allow players to actually dedicate specific turrets to particular targets if they want to. You were right in saying that Fighting Steel is a strategy game more than it is a simulation. We don't  give players the ability to jump from gun to gun to manually elevate the guns and fire at enemy ships.

You are right in saying that we have limited the scope of Fighting Steel, as this was intentional. However, as you mentioned, the inclusion of a random battle generator gives Fighting Steel a lot of repeat play value.
Along with a special division commander mode that forces you to identify other ships as friend or foe and allows for friendly fire, we hope we will provide a fun game that makes for good scenarios and campaigns against the computer, and great multiplayer experiences. Fighting Steel is currently scheduled for a June release and we have 3 more months to make sure the game lives up to our expectations. We obviously hope that enough people are interested in the subject and can be won over to our approach. Only time will tell.

As for your interest in submarines, SSI's upcoming Silent Hunter II and Destroyer Command should make you very happy.

Joel Billings

1999 SUBSIM Review